Top Rated Torrance Criminal Defense Attorney 2

Torrance Domestic Violence Defense Attorney


Former Top Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and California State Bar Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist

Pat Carey prosecuted almost every crime there is in California during his 8+ year tenure with the Los Angeles County District Attorneys Office. He was born and raised in the South Bay Area, and uses his local experience to fight your case from the inside out.


Are you facing Domestic Violence charges?

Domestic violence charges are serious allegations that need to be treated as such by a top performing defense attorney.  California generally treats domestic violence more seriously than other types of abuse.
It is important to note that spousal abuse is not limited to abuse committed by a spouse (or former spouse). It also includes acts committed by:
  1. someone who lives or lived with the victim
  2. a fiancée or former fiancée
  3. a person the victim is dating or had previously dated
  4. or a parent of the victim’s child.

Spousal abuse also covers more actions and behaviors than just physical abuse.

Under California law, the following acts may constitute abuse: 

  1. An actual or intentional physical injury (e.g. hitting, shoving, pushing, kicking, pulling hair, throwing objects, etc.)
  2. Sexual assault
  3. Keeping someone from freely coming and going
  4. Harassing, stalking, following, or scaring someone
  5. Destroying personal property
  6. Physical abuse of family pets
  7. Making someone fear that he or she is in danger of immediate and serious physical injury.

The list above is not comprehensive, and domestic violence may also take more subtle forms such as verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse. Keep in mind that in addition to all of these forms of abuse, California also makes it a crime to financially abuse an elderly or dependent adult.

What Are the Criminal Charges for Domestic Violence?

The two most common criminal charges for domestic violence are: 1) corporal injury on a spouse; and 2) spousal battery.

The crime of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant is considered a “wobbler offense,” which means that prosecutors may choose to charge the defendant with either a misdemeanor or a felony — though it is generally charged as a felony. This may have a significant effect on the defendant’s punishment. For example, the difference could be as much as serving a few years in prison or up to 25 years based on California’s “Three Strikes” Law.

To be convicted of corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, a prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that not only did the defendant intend to inflict a physical injury, but this act ultimately resulted in a “traumatic condition” (major or minor bodily injury) to the victim. This second requirement can be confusing, because it does not require that the defendant intended to cause such injury. Instead, the defendant need only to have intended to perform the initial act that eventually caused an injury.

For example, consider a scenario in which the defendant threw a hot cup of coffee at the victim, leaving the victim with serious burns on her face. As long as the defendant intended to throw the cup of coffee (the initial act), it is irrelevant whether or not the defendant actually intended to burn the victim (the serious injury).

Unlike corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant, the crime of spousal battery does not require that the victim be physically injured. Here, it is enough that there was some physical contact that was forceful and/or unwanted. The victim need not feel any actual discomfort or harm.

For example, if the defendant hits a victim leaving no physical trace of the act, the defendant may still be charged with spousal battery.

What is the difference between Corporal Injury and Spousal Battery?

The major difference between corporal injury on a spouse and spousal battery is that a charge of corporal injury requires that the victim sustain an actual and concrete injury. It is important to note that spousal battery is treated as a less serious offense, and charged as a misdemeanor — not a felony.

What Other Legal Actions May Be Involved in a Domestic Violence Case?

Corporal injury on a spouse and spousal battery are crimes, and therefore require a prosecutor to file charges. Once the crime is reported to police, the victim has very little control over the outcome of the case — in fact, he or she is often barred from dropping charges once they have been made.

However, victims of domestic violence may be able to get protection through the civil justice system by asking the court for a domestic violence restraining order. A restraining order is a court order that is intended to help protect victims of abuse from their abusers. In the restraining order, the court may order the restrained person to:

  • Not harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault (including sexually), molest, or hit the victim;
  • Not follow, stalk, keep them under surveillance, or block the victim’s movements;
  • Not destroy the victim’s personal property or otherwise disturb the peace;
  • Not contact anyone protected under the order either directly or indirectly (including by phone, email, or other electronic means);
  • Stay a specified distance away from the victim, the victim’s home, job, school, vehicle, family pet, and/or the victim’s child’s school;
  • Move out of the victim’s house;
  • Not possess or purchase any new guns, and to turn in any existing guns to law enforcement (or sell them to a gun dealer);
  • Follow court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements;
  • Pay child and/or spousal or partner support; and
  • Give or return specified property to the victim.

It is important to know that a restraining order issued by a California court is valid in any of the 50 states. Further, it is a crime to violate the conditions specified in the order. If a defendant is found in violation of a restraining order, he or she may face court fines, penalties, and even imprisonment.

When you are charged or even being investigated for a crime in Torrance, everything can change. With over 7,000 criminal cases handled, no one knows that fact better than Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist Pat Carey. In his 8+ years working with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Pat Carey saw it all.  After serving as a prosecutor, he left the DA’s office and became a privately retained attorney focusing on criminal defense. He brought his knowledge of everything prosecution to put forward the best possible defense for his clients, and most specifically has focused his criminal defense practice in Manhattan Beach. He has not only the experience, but Pat has also trained Law Enforcement agencies and new prosecutors during his tenure with the D.A.’s Office.  He has mastered the art of negotiation for his clients, and when your case cannot be settled Pat is relentless at trial.  His trial experience is unmatched by his competitors given his experience in the DA’s office.

Pat is a Board Certified Criminal Law Specialist with the California State Bar.  What does that mean?  Well, there are 250,000 lawyers in California and only 400 have been granted the specialization.  The State Bar will only award the specialization to those lawyers with the sufficient trial statistics and courtroom experience.  So while a lawyer may tell you he has all the experience in the world, if they not a Board Certified Specialist, they do not have the experience they claim.  Pat does.

In 2016, Pat was also named one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Pat was also selected by Super Lawyers Magazine as a 2016 and 2017 Southern California Rising Star.

Pat Carey is not just a “former prosecutor.” During his time with the District Attorney, he tried 62 jury trials for cases ranging from driving under the influence misdemeanors, to gang crimes, to special circumstance murder cases. He additionally spent one year assigned to a juvenile division focusing exclusively on juvenile cases where he handled over 75 juvenile adjudication trials. As a felony trial lawyer, Pat conducted over 1,600 preliminary hearings. His experience as a prosecutor is unmatched by those who claim to be “former prosecutors.” In his time as a defense attorney, he has already had cases dismissed either at the urging of the prosecutor or by taking the case to a judge and requiring dismissal. In addition to his jury trial experience, Pat Carey has also handled thousands of drug possession and sales cases, sex crimes, robberies, burglaries, fraud, theft and embezzlement cases.  Many criminal defense lawyers you meet will tell you that you should hire them because they have been practicing for decades.  Keep in mind, however, that in Pat Carey’s career he has already likely handled more cases, conducted more jury trials, and had more success than those attorneys have had in their time.  Pat is a new breed of criminal defense attorney.  He is up to date on the law, is technologically savvy, and understands how the office that is prosecuting you works inside and out. 

Media Appearances

One of Pat Carey’s murder prosecutions was featured on NBC’s “Dateline”.

Pat was also recently a guest commentator on Fox News discussing Lindsay Lohan’s most recent criminal troubles.

  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 100
  • The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40
  • Avvo Clients' Choice Award
  • Avvo 10.0 Top Lawyer
  • Super Lawyers®

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